WOOD GREEN ALMSHOUSES
ARCHITECT FOR THE CHARITIES
ALFRED WILLIAM STEPHENS CROSS
A.W.S. Cross was to become Vice President of the RIBA, Vice President of The Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors; and his son, K.M.B. Cross, was President of The RIBA.
According to a Report in the Builder of 6th January 1933,
"The late A.W.S. Cross : It is with much regret we have to report the death of Mr. A.W.S. Cross, details of whose long and honourable career follow. By his death the architectural profession has lost one of its ablest members, whose scholarly municipal, educational and other works gave him a prominent position in the ranks of the profession. He came into prominence many years ago by his fine Technical College in Manchester. Apart from his architectural work, he was a prolific and able writer on architectural subjects, and his judgement, technical knowledge and good taste contributed to the making of an architect in the best sense of the word. Mr. Cross made many friends, who found much in his character to admire, and by whom his loss is deeply regretted."
Compiling from Grey and The Builder, A.W.S. Cross was articled to his father's firm of Cross & Wells of Hastings and London. In 1882 he moved to Weston-Super-are and opened his practice. Alfred William Stephens Cross moved to Hastings in 1885, and moved to London in 1889. An Associate 1883-86 and a Fellow in 1892. From 1889 he was associated with Henry Spalding as Spalding and Cross, taking part in many competitions, and also acted as competition assessor, later to become Chairman of The Competition Reform Society. Spalding and Cross dissolved their partnership in 1899. Alfred Cross and his son ( Kenneth Mervyn Baskerville Cross, 1890-1968 ) became almost entirely specialised in public bath designs.
Besides the Almshouses at Wood Green, Alfred Cross’ work also includes …
Remodelling of Stanton Drew Church 1881 and other churches
Restoration of Market Cross Cheddar
The Vicarage Easton-in-Gordano 1885
Glendale Clevedon 1887
Two hospitals in the West of England
Finalist in the London County Hall Competition 1908
Headquarters 17th Rifle Volunteers Camden Town 1890
Dulwich Baths 1890
Mission Premises Kentish Town 1891
Congregational Church and School Hall Finchley Road 1891
Church West Hampstead
Artisans’ Dwellings Manchester
Schools at Cricklewood, Hendon, New Barnet and West Hampstead
Hampstead Baths 1891
Manchester School of Technology
Haggerston Baths 1904
Marshall Street Swimming Baths St James Westminster
Westminster Baths 1931
Technical College Manchester 1890s
Gosport Free Library 1900
Portsmouth Technical Institute 1900
Municipal Dye House Manchester 1903 ( part of the Municipal Technical School )
Merchant Venturers’ Technical College Bristol
Davis Memorial Laboratories, University College, Aberystwyth 1905
Restoration of Shoreditch Town Hall 1906
Schools at Finchley, Poplar, Gospel Oak and Kentish Town
Additions to St John’s College Cambridge
Public Baths Clyde Street Deptford
Public Library Deptford
Public Baths Finsbury
Seymour Place Baths Marylebone 1933 ( after his death )
His writing produced "Public Baths and Washhouses", "A History of Architecture", "Practical Notes for Architectural Draughtsmen", "Rome in the Augustan Age", and many contributions to the press, especially "The Builder" With his son he reproduced James Gibbs' "Book of Architecture", ensuring the correct application of design orders to buildings.
"In 1903, he found his happiest expression in the best work of the 18th century in this country. The faculty for producing a good workable plan for buildings of various types which had proved successful had developed into a artist's enjoyment of the formalities of axial and symmetrical planning."
Kenneth M.B. Cross ( son ) writes, "He possessed boundless courage and incurable optimism and spoke of the wonder of work. He was entirely devoted to architecture. He amazed others with his energy and almost boyish enthusiasm. He had a gift of being able to infect us all with his keenness. He was an artist to the depths of being."
Herbert W. Wills writes, "No one I have known had preserved to a fuller extent the spirit and hopes of youth in spite of advancing years and he was always generous and fair with his appreciation of his fellow architects' work. The buildings he designed and carried out are an ample testimony of his ability and to his unusual power of work and concentration in the effort to give the best he was capable of, in his calling."
Article in The Builder 9th December 1905
Including drawings and a perspective view of St. Leonard's House.
"These buildings were erected for the Charity Trustees of St. Leonards, Shoreditch, at a cost of between six and seven thousand pounds.
The materials employed were Lawrence's red bricks for the general facings, and Eureka green slates for the roofs. The iron railings and gates and the sundial were supplied by Messres T. Elsey & Sons. The cartouche in the pediment of the front building, containing married couples' quarters, was carved by Mr. W. Hearn.
The general contractor was Mr. C. Gray of Coventry and the architect Mr. Alfred W.S. Cross."
From GREY, Porter's and Walter's, Old Street, Shoreditch, were demolished to make way for the Police Court & Station, 1906 (by John Dixon Butler : 1861-1920 : who specialised in Police Station buildings).
INFORMATION SHOWN ON THE DRAWINGS
OF THE ALMSHOUSES AT WOOD GREEN
The cartouche was formed of Mark's Park Bath Stone. The elevation proudly boasted shutters, either side of each window and the metal pins are still to be seen on site at head and sill of these. At the apex of the pediment stood a fine cupola, with a base of lead, having the sundial on the roadside elevation, surmounted by a teak circular open colonnade and then topped with a copper dome and a final iron fleche and weather vane. The internal walls were of Cranham brick, all plastered. WC spaces were built of glazed brick.
The Site plan shows that the whole complex, save for the Fuller's Almshouses, were part of one project, and it is probable that Porter's and Walter's were completed first. The site plan shows the outline of the original 1865/6 building of Fuller's, as was indicated on the Ordnance Survey map.
It is obvious from the present face of brickwork that there has been some alteration to the plans and the rear elevations of St. Leonard's House and of Porter's and Walter's, where original soldier arches are to be seen, as are areas of differing brick colours and styles. The plans originally included open lobbies/landings, with a timber balustrading to the facade. This may well have been the case on the gable ends of Porter's and Walter's, but closer inspection will be necessary.
On the rear of St. Leonard's House, the pedimental spandrel is infilled with rendering, there used to be circular windows at either end of the roof. This rendering is applied to other areas of the buildings, notably to the gable ends of Porter's and Walter's and to the base of the projecting bay windows. It is an attempt to repair and copy the original rendering to the base of the bays.
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